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The PTI reports

Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh will be held in two phases on December 11 and 16 and November 11 and December 19 respectively, the Election Commission announced on Wednesday, slightly advancing the schedule in the hill state on account of weather conditions.  Counting of votes in Gujarat would be taken up on December 23, while in Himachal Pradesh it would be on December 28. Electronic voting machines will be deployed. The term of the 182-member assembly in Gujarat expires on December 26 and the 68-member House in Himachal Pradesh on March 9.

While this brings the model code of conduct into force in Gujarat and HP, the EC added a new twist with its guidelines on monitoring electronic content which could very well seeModi TV go off the air.

The announcement of a two phased poll was welcomed by Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The BJP has made development and his leadership its main plank. While Modi exuded confidence that the polls will be peaceful the media was up to its usual dirty tricks. This Reuters headline says it all:

Riot scarred Gujarat to vote in December

Five years on despite the state making strides in development the left of center mainstream media continues to color its reportage with its own ideological templates and prejudices. This op-ed piece by Varghese George on a new middle class in Gujarat is in sharp contrast to the doom and gloom template with which media outlets like the Reuters tend to frame their Gujarat news stories.

The left of center mainstream media has also beentoo eager to hype up any story of dissidence against Modi even if based purely on rumors and innuendo. A great example were the flurry of news stories today on the imminent exit of Suresh Mehta from the BJP. So unfounded were these stories that Suresh Mehta had to go on record on Times TV to issue this categorical denial.

As far as today is concerned, the rumours which are spread about me quitting BJP are not correct

The malaise in the media runs deeper with even the PTI coloring its reportage with clear bias. With an opening sentence this PTI story raises serious questions on its credibility and independence

Voters in India’s Gujarat state, ruled by a Hindu nationalist politician blamed for deadly anti-Muslim riots, will go to the polls this December, a statement said Wednesday

But then little surprise with closet communist N. Ram for its Chairman the PTI can hardly claim to be unbiased or independent. But here is the most troubling aspect, we the Indian Tax Payers have been subsidizing the PTI for decades now. For example the 2007-2008 budget had 25 crores earmarked for Press Information Services a portion of which goes towards

Subsidy for running India’s News Pool Desk of Nonaligned News Agencies Pool through the Press Trust of India.

Offstumped Bottomline: As Gujarat goes to polls, the left of center media is up to its usual dirty tricks and smear campaigns. With tax payer subsidized PTI leading the charge it is perhaps time to hold the PTI to account for its bias.

http://offstumped.nationalinterest.in/2007/10/10/gujarat-goes-to-polls/#post-comments

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